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Iran foreign minister says nuclear deal possible by June 30

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses journalists during a news briefing in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, May 28, 2015. Iran's foreign minister is holding out hope that a "sustainable, mutually respectful" deal can be struck with world powers in talks over his country's nuclear program before the current deadline of June 30. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday held out hope that a “sustainable, mutually respectful” deal can be struck with world powers in talks over his country’s nuclear program before the deadline of June 30.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said an agreement with negotiators from the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany is possible provided “people have their foot in reality, not in illusions.”

The proposed deal would freeze Iran’s nuclear program for a decade, in return for international sanctions relief. Iran insists its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes, while the West fears it could be used to build nuclear weapons.

Zarif also warned that “excessive demands” would make an agreement hard to envisage, even without a deadline. He spoke after talks in Athens Thursday with his Greek peer, Nikos Kotzias

On Saturday, he is due to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Geneva, in a bid to achieve progress toward an agreement by June 30. European and Iranian officials have suggested the talks may require more time, but the U.S. isn’t considering an extension.

At a meeting in the Swiss city of Lausanne last month, Iran and the six powers agreed on a framework deal meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear activities while granting it quick access to bank accounts, oil markets and financial assets blocked by sanctions.

The deal also specifies that if at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, the sanctions would snap back into place.

“I believe the terms of the agreement in Lausanne are rather clear so I would expect my negotiating partners to refrain from making excessive demands,” Zarif said Thursday, without providing any further details.

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